時間之為線索:談曾上杰《獵人》個展

文/賴駿杰

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曾上杰刀下的人物,多半不會顯露太多情緒在表情上,但這些人物卻總是能以身體姿態說出當時的故事。用身體說出情緒,並不想當然耳地一定有著誇大或戲劇化的動作,即便其人物確實往往有如同矯飾主義(Mannerism)般風格化的拉長體態,但藝術家並不刻意製造身體姿態的舞台效果。其刀下的故事,在人物雕像之外,在於其用目光所構築的情節,以及用顏色所刻劃的時間之中。

 

展題為「獵人」,如藝術家自述,這與疫情流行的當前境況有關:許多人的活動與計劃,皆因此巨大且不可抗拒的因素而被迫中止;或者說,「等待」。依此言之,其所關注者並非一般所以為的「狩獵」核心——追索(chasing),相反地,給出關鍵一擊之前的凝靜或等待狀態,才是其創作的原旨。如背後已被定靶卻仍堅定地看向遠方的人物,可以藉由其不甚明顯的扭轉身姿,以及那似乎正要飛甩出去的手掌,判斷其處於正要攻擊的那一瞬間。藝術家精妙地以刀痕將此種「凝蓄」的時間張力給表現出來;冷靜且輕快之敲鑿,其所劃破的是維繫著身體姿態之暫(瞬)時性。這與其慣常使用的上色手法有關係。反覆地塗繪與小面積的削除,並不那麼多是為了形體而琢磨的;相反地應該更多從時間層面來思考,它除了紀錄藝術家勞動的經驗外,亦揭露出過程的痕跡。因此,這裡的切削痕跡可能更接近水墨畫中的飛白技法,但有趣的是,「飛白」是將所欲表現之事物給留存下來(抽象的與具象的),而曾上杰對時間張力的刻劃,則是將事物(在此指的是「時間」)剝除。但無論如何,兩種技法皆指向同一種概念,即作品的「時空擴延」,增加了層次的豐富。這種擴延首先藉由與人物量體不可分割的空間塊面給出暗示,檯座被取消了,取而代之的是角色人物紮實地存立於空間中的真實依據,從而延伸到實體的展場空間。

 

時空擴延的概念,也說明了為何藝術家總是以劇場空間的調控思維來設想其作品;每件作品都是故事的主人翁,而每次個展皆為不同的故事。這些人物透過各種不同的「視覺追索」符號而相連結,例如靶心所表達的黃雀在後,又或者是望遠鏡與投射飛鏢等,都顯明地回應展覽的題旨。這些符號將其刀下的人物彼此串接,從而構築出一視覺獵場,在此場域中,所有人都逃離不了誰的目光。當然,這或許也包括走進此展場中的你我。同樣地,換個角度看,背後畫有靶心的人物,其向後張開的左手掌,亦可能並非其眼前的目標,而是正回應著其背後的獵捕者;誰是獵物?誰又是獵人呢?正是這種時空擴延的空間調控,讓各種符號得以觸及彼此,逃出所謂雕像的內部結構限制,而延伸至實際的劇場空間裡頭。因此,「獵人」是帶有敘事性的,而其敘事手法並不在於雕像彼此間實體的、群體的聯結或互動,而是將情緒、次序與動作收攏在同一部故事中,也同時透過視覺框架將故事帶來觀者眼前。

 

或許用「分鏡」是更好的說法,展出雕像人物的尺幅比例、半身或全身,以及仰躺所帶出的視角轉換,都可想成是一幕幕的分鏡腳本,漸次地構建出觀者的理解與感覺牽動。分鏡的使用,可以有效且靈活地將雕塑從「展示檯」上解放,因為它再也不是,穩固地且集中地,依附在所謂的檯座上,而是仰賴觀看景框所帶來的距離、角度等變化,表現人物角色彼此間的關係。曾上杰的人物雕像並不追求俗常美學觀點中的「傳神」,或者精確地講,「神情」並非此展所考量的重點,整體姿態與彼此之間的關係才是其主要敘事手法。其角色人物的造形與態度,讓人容易聯想到日本青年漫畫的風格。但這裡說的是那種更趨近「末世」與「灰暗」風格之厭世情節。總體呈現灰色調且近乎冷漠的角色刻劃,就彷彿在邀請觀者同享愁緒;還是應該說:一起抽根菸,或喝一杯吧?顯然,那些沒有明確目光標的之角色,應該就是藝術家所說的,正處於(狩獵前)等待的狀態。只是這「等待」,在某種層面上並不那麼積極與勃發。等待,是很令人玩味的,它可以是一種無可奈何的積極,所有計劃與行動皆須臣服在「等待」面前;另一方面,它更像是一道強有力的時間靜止符咒,被迫暫停,或許放空,也或許正縝密地籌劃下一步。半躺著抽菸的形象也因此道出其濃濃的惆悵感,而躺下所伸向天空中的手,也傳達出無法企及的無奈。

 

曾上杰的「獵人」,追捕的不是什麼別的具體事物,而是時間——那稍縱即逝,也無從追尋的時間。藝術家以等待(以時間做為貨幣)所換取的目標對象,在此更多是漫無目的,無論是面對(因為疫情而)中止的等待狀態,或是因為不斷流逝之青春而有的惆悵,又或者是那放空的無所事事,皆可被視為引頸姿態,在此脈絡下就像是正拉開而蓄勢待發的時間之弓,應被理解為某種時間的延續與伸拉,像是在等待或追看些什麼,而非添贅的造作效果。框景與分鏡的手法,也展現為是某種獵捕時間的姿態。其雕像經常有的拉長身形帶出藝術家對於時間性的理解追索,以框取時間片斷。然而,不需多做說明,無論是獵捕或框取如同幽靈般的時間總是不可為的;且在許多情況下,幾乎人人皆能理解的「時間寶貴」,在疫情當下則成為相對無用的事物。對於那些追著時間跑的多數人而言再尋常不過的效率生活,卻變成被時間包裹而停滯的狀態,時間因此成為一種難以擺脫而纏纏縈繞的幽靈般夢魘。如果說,「獵(hunt)」意謂的是一種對於他者追索之執著,則曾上杰的作品表現出的時間執念,可能更為黏著,並且自身偏執地身陷其中——「糾纏(haunt)」著自身。如此,藝術家所建構的這樣一座視覺追索的劇場性空間,就成了捕捉「時間」而交織的補時網。補時網就是我們信念的延伸,相信且企求著消逝於時間中的各種美好未來,或許這就是藝術家邀請我們與其共享的敘事藍圖。

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Regarding Time as Clues:

Discussion on TSENG Shang-Jie's “Hunter” Solo Exhibition

By LAI Chun-Chieh (Jay)

The figures carved by TSENG Shang-Jie for the most part do not reveal much emotion in their expressions, but instead, they tend to narrate the story of the time with physical postures. Capturing emotions with postures does not necessarily mean exaggerated or dramatic movements. Even though the figures may have a stylized elongated form like Mannerism, TSENG refuses to deliberately create a stage effect through postures. What he strives to narrate is the plot constructed by the figures’ eyesight and the time engraved by color, which goes beyond the figure statues themselves.

 

The exhibition is titled “Hunter”, which, as the artist said, is associated with the consideration of the current pandemic-stricken situation: many people are forced to stop (or we say "wait") their scheduled activities and plans because of this far-reaching and irresistible event. As such, what he focuses on is not chasing, the core of the “hunting” as it is generally supposed to be, but instead, the silence or waiting state before the critical strike. A case in point the figure fixed at his back but still looking firmly at the distance, whose inconspicuous twisting posture and the palm of the hand that seems to be poised to fly out reveal that he is about to make a strike. The artist managed to express the stretching force of this “readiness” time with exquisite carving marks, and what the marks revealing calmness and agility broke down was the temporality (instantaneity) sustained by the physical posture. This is related to the coloring technique that TSENG usually uses. The repeated painting and the ablation of small areas are not so much refined for the sake of shape; on the contrary, it should be considered more from the time. In addition to recording the artist's labor experience, it also reveals the traces of the process. So, the carving traces seem to be similar to the “flying-white” technique in ink painting. However, interestingly, what the “flying-white” technique aims to achieve is to leave behind the objects (abstract and concrete) to be expressed, while for TSENG, the aim is to remove the thing to be expressed (Here it refers to “time”), with the intention of embodying the stretching force of the time. But in any case, both the two techniques point to the same concept, that is, works’ “time and space extension”, which is employed to increase layer richness. This kind of extension is first implied by the spatial dimension that is inseparable from the figure’s body, and the pedestal is removed and replaced by the real basis for the figure vividly existing in the space so that it extends to the physical exhibition space.

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The concept of time and space extension also explains why artists always conceive their works with the control thinking of theater space. Each work is the protagonist of the story, and each solo exhibition narrates a different story. The figures in the exhibition are connected with each other through various “visual chasing” symbols, such as the fable “The mantis stalks the cicada, unaware of the oriole behind” conveyed by the bull's-eye, or the telescope and darts shooting, all of which prominently respond to the theme of the exhibition. These symbols connect the figures created by the artist together and make them construct a visual hunting field in which no one can escape from the other's vision. This, of course, may apply to the visitors in the exhibition. Seeing from another angle, the figure with the bull’s-eye on his back, whose left palm is opened backwards, may not aim at the target in front of him, but instead the hunter behind him. So, who is the prey? Who is the hunter? It is this kind of control over the time and space extension that allows various symbols to touch each other, making them escape the confinements of the statue’s so-called internal structure and extend into the actual theater space. Therefore, the exhibition “Hunter” is narrative, but its narrative technique focuses on encapsulating emotions, sequences and actions into the same story to the viewer through the various visual observation frameworks, rather than the physical or group connection or interaction among the statues.

 

“Storyboard” is probably a better narrative method, by which the exhibition statues figures’ body ratio, half-body, whole body, and perspective conversion caused by lying on their back can all be conceived as the scenes of storyboard, gradually constructing viewers’ understanding and emotional sensation. The use of storyboard can effectively and flexibly free the statues from the “display stands”, making them no longer attached to the pedestals stably and centrally but instead the changes in distance and angle brought by the viewing frame, which are used to present the relationship between figures. When creating figure statues, TSENG doesn’t pursue the “vividness”, in the common aesthetic point of view; to be precise, “expression” is not the focus of his solo exhibition, and it is the overall postures as well as their relationships that are the main narrative techniques. Additionally, the shape and attitude of the figures are prone to triggering the reminiscence of the style of Japanese youth manga. However, what’s expressed here is a world-weary plot that is closer to the styles of the “end of the world” and “gloominess”. The figures created by him feature an overall gray tone and almost indifferent figure carving, as if they are inviting viewers to share their melancholy, or saying, “how about having a smoke, or having a drink?” Apparently, those figures without a clear visual target are, as the artist said, the ones in a waiting state (before hunting), so they seem to be not so active and energetic to a certain degree. Waiting is a very interesting thing that reveals a sort of helpless vigor, and all plans and actions must be surrendered in front of “waiting”. In another way, it is more like a magic time static spell, forcing people to stop, or be empty, or perhaps carefully plan the next step. Similarly, the image of smoking in a reclined manner also presents the strong feeling of melancholy held by the figure, while the hand stretches out into the sky appears to convey his unspeakable helplessness as well.

 

What TSENG chases in his “Hunter” exhibition is not a specific thing, but the time, fleeting yet untraceable. With waiting (using time as currency) as the theme, the artist places more attention to the aimless state when people are caught in a waiting state due to the abrupt suspension of activities as a result of the pandemic, or the melancholy triggered by the constant passing of youth, or the idleness of having nothing to do, which all can be regarded as waiting postures, in this context, are just like a stretched bow of time that is ready to shoot an arrow, so they should be understood as a sort of continuation and extension of the time as if waiting or looking for something, rather than a superfluous mannered effect. The enframed scenery and storyboard techniques present a state of getting into the hunting moment to a certain extent. The elongated body shapes capture time fragments with frames, presenting the artist’s understanding and pursuit for timeliness. However, there is no need to labor that either hunting or framing ghost-like time is always a task unachievable. In many cases, almost everyone can understand “time is precious”, but it seems to become a relatively useless thing in the current days stricken by the pandemic. For the most people who used to spare no efforts to chase efficient time in their ordinary lives unexpectedly turn to a state of having abundant idle time, and time has become a ghostly nightmare that is difficult for people to get rid of. If we say “hunt” means a kind of insistence to pursue the Others, what TSENG’s works reveal is the obsession to time, maybe more adherent, and he is paranoidly trapped in it, which "haunts" himself. ​In this way, such a visually chasing theater space constructed by the artist turns into a net to capture “time”. The time capturing net is an extension of our beliefs, with which we believe and seek various beautiful futures that are doomed to disappear in time. Perhaps this is the narrative blueprint that the artist invites us to share with him.

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藝術家 Artist
展覽 Exhibition